Among the many students attending classes on Clemson’s main campus this summer are 140 incoming freshmen – part of a new and innovative program called Tigertown Summer Bound (TTSB). An example of collaboration across the University, this initiative was developed by the Undergraduate Studies Office and the Office of Admissions, with many other offices actively involved. It is led by Associate Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Studies John Griffin and his team in Undergraduate Studies.
TTSB provides incoming freshmen with an opportunity to progress towards a Clemson degree prior to their first fall semester enrollment while learning about and leveraging dedicated academic and support resources available to them at the University.
“As a part of the program, our newest students will strengthen their academic skills in an environment of structured feedback and develop new strategies for success through collaborative, co-curricular programming. The result is the transition to college life and college-level work is eased,” said Griffin. “These students have the opportunity to develop a network of peers while living in a smaller campus community and earning six credit hours toward their degrees.”
Clemson’s TTSB students will share an experience that is similar to those who attend Georgia Tech’s initiative of a similar nature. Tech’s students discovered the best part of the program was the sense of community and the familiarity with campus afforded to them because of starting classes during the summer. They learned how classes work, how the instructor lectures, how grades are earned and became acquainted with an array of support websites providing instructional support – all with the benefit of smaller classes while taking six hours of academic credit.
“We fielded really strong applications for our incoming class. The TTSB students, who are part of that class, are talented and well-qualified students who are getting a great start to their academic careers here at Clemson,” said David Kuskowski, Clemson’s Director of Admissions.
Benchmark institutions offering similar programs report retention rates for those students admitted in the summer match or even exceed those who start during the fall, all while maintaining exceedingly high levels of student satisfaction.
“Come fall,” Kuskowski observed, “our TTSB students will be the pros on campus.”
Darren Linvill, one of the many professors teaching in the TTSB program, currently has around 30 students enrolled in his two course sections of COMM 2500.
“Public Speaking is a course I would recommend students take very early,” said Linvill. “It’s such a foundational class and learning how to research and craft your message is key to having success in so many classes these students will take.”
Linvill recognizes the importance of how the TTSB program can help build a sense of community for undergraduate students. When he was a freshman at Wake Forest University, he believed he had a “distinct benefit” because his freshman class was quite small and he had the opportunity to meet a lot more people in all the different majors.
Aside from building a sense of community, Linvill noted by August TTSB students will have unique, advantageous skill sets.
“These students will have built up some knowledge of how college works and how to be in a classroom,” Linvill said. “From big things like the pace of instruction to more simple things like following the teacher’s preferences on whether the paper they are submitting should be stapled or paper clipped. They won’t mess up because we allowed them to do so and learn these lessons in a safer space. They will have experience how to manage the freedom of being a student without suffering the liability.”
Clemson’s TTSB students are receiving targeted support programing including dedicated academic advising, coaching and tutoring in their courses. Also, they participate in programs and activities designed to enhance their transition to Clemson. To compliment the structure afforded TTSB students, Linvill, who enjoys summer school as an opportunity to teach those freshmen-level classes he can’t teach during fall and spring, continually provides “ad hoc” advice.
“Because it’s a much more relaxed atmosphere during summer classes, and you see the students every day, you really get to know them better. I’ve shared with them where they can eat good barbeque and the best place to get their oil changed. They are adjusting to the City of Clemson too,” said Linvill, laughing. “I tell them a major goal they should have while here is to make a friend with a boat.”
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